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New Marlins Ballpark over 90 percent complete

New Marlins Ballpark over 90 percent complete

New Marlins Ballpark over 90 percent complete
MIAMI -- Though talk has simmered following the Miami Marlins' free-agent signings at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, the organization's future home in Little Havana continues on its path to completion.

On Tuesday, the Marlins announced three Taste of Miami partners, which will highlight Miami's strong food brands, on the Promenade Level on the third-base side.

There will be a Latin American Grill selling Cuban sandwiches, croquetas and chicken-and-beef empanadas, as well as a Papo Llego y Pon.

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"We're really trying to bring the taste of Miami -- homegrown Latin food -- and I think we're going to do it, and I think it's going to be something really, really exciting," said Rene Gonzales, president of Latin American Grill. "We're looking forward to the opportunity."

A fresh oyster bar and dolphin sandwiches -- among other delicacies -- will be made available at Don Camaron's Seafood Grill & Market.

Another prominent area of the ballpark that has been the focus of late sits to the right of Taste of Miami.

Workers have been testing out whether it's possible to have the retractable roof closed and the six wall panels open in left field for a picturesque view of downtown Miami. If winds exceed 30 mph, the wall must be shut.

"The reason why we want to open this area as much as we can without impacting the comfort of our fans is it gives you all this extra space," said executive vice president of ballpark development Claude Delorme. "This Budweiser bar will be the busiest of any location in the ballpark, just because of the view of downtown and the seating bowl."

With less than four months until Opening Night against the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals on April 4, the new Marlins Ballpark is 91 percent complete.

According to the club, there was record-breaking ticket sales in November and December. Currently, several ballpark sections are sold out, including MVP Suites, Diamond Club seats and Championship Suites.

Team president David Samson believes that the club will rank in the top 10 when it comes to season-ticket holders this coming season.

"We're always going to leave room for individual tickets and group sales, and obviously a dream would be to have a waiting list," Samson said. "It's hard to imagine that the Miami Marlins would ever have a waiting list for season tickets, but the truth is we've never been the Miami Marlins before, so everything is new."

Other items Samson mentioned include:

• Individual-game tickets will be sold later in March. "We're still selling season tickets. ... That's the best way to get tickets."

• For those who don't have season tickets and want to attend Opening Night, Samson said there will be a "couple thousand tickets at most" the Marlins will be holding off for a lottery, but they have yet to develop how the lottery will work.

• The ballpark will be eased into events with soft openings. The first event will seat 5,000 people, the second 10,000 and the third 15,000. For the first exhibition game against the Yankees on April 1, there will be 25,000. And for the second game on April 2, there will be 30,000.

"We actually have a plan of which sections will be open for which events -- which concession stands, which entrances -- because we want to see how everything's used," Samson said. "That's the purpose of having soft events. We're really lucky that we're on schedule, because that makes it easier to open your ballpark when you can do it slowly."

• As of now, it looks as though March 3 is the "best bet" for Fan Fest, which will take place at the stadium and will not be tied into February's annual caravan.

• Over the last couple of weeks, the Marlins were "at the finish line, and then we backed away" on a stadium naming rights deal. Quadrant partners will be announced shortly, and a stadium name may come by Opening Night.

According to Samson, companies are coming to the Marlins because they see the organization as the "team of Latin America and the gateway to the Americas."

"There are a lot of announcements coming up, a lot of things are getting installed, a lot of art in the public places is getting ready, a lot of the finishes are getting ready," Samson said. "This is it. There's only 9 percent left."

Christina De Nicola is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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